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SAP BI 4.3 SP1: What’s New In Web Intelligence and Semantic Layer

Released in June 2020, SAP BI 4.3 has been completely renewed with modern interfaces and many expected new features.

Its first Support Package was highly expected by many since it re-introduces some features that were not yet available, enhances some user interface parts for better usability and improves the overall performance, stability and quality.

If you already know SAP BI 4.3, then this article describes Web Intelligence, Semantic Layer and (some) BI Launch Pad enhancements compared only to SAP BI 4.3:

If you do not know yet SAP BI 4.3, you may rather read this article that merges the SAP BI 4.3 and SAP BI 4.3 SP1 content and exhaustively describes the Web Intelligence and Semantic Layer enhancements compared to SAP BI 4.2.

Web Intelligence: Usability Enhancements 

Several improvements have been made in the new Web Intelligence interface to make it even easier to use.

Side Panels

In Edit mode, two buttons are displayed at the right side of the toolbar, one for the Main side-panel and one for the Build side-panel.

Edit Mode Side Panels

With these two buttons, you can independently open and close the Main and Build side-panels. These side panels are organized in tabs:

  • The Main side panel contains the following tabs, the organization of which makes you think of the SAP BI 4.2 one:
    • : Objects, to display the document dictionary with all objects retrieved by the queries and also the enrichments added by the document designer.
    • : Structure, to display the report structure with the different blocks it contains.
    • : Navigation Map, to quickly navigate in the report sections.
    • : Comments, containing the comment threads. Click an existing comment in the document to view its thread or right click a report element in the document to comment it.
    • : Properties, to display the document statistics and set its properties (Refresh on open, chart animations, …)
  • The Build side panel contains the following tabs:
    • : Data, to define the data structure of the selected item.
    • : Format, to define the format of the selected item.

This new organization is intended to simplify the way you open and select these panels.It also provides you with more flexibility for the display of your documents. For example, to get more space for your document, you may close all side panels, or open only the Build side panel. These two last actions cannot be performed in SAP BI 4.3.

The display mode (Alphabetical, Queries, Folders) selected in the Objects tab is consistently used in other dialog boxes (Formula Editor, Input Control, Conditional Formatting, …)

Formula Editor: Object Displayed in Queries View Mode

In Queries View, if the document contains only one query, this query is displayed in expanded mode right away and all the retrieved objects are immediately available. If the document contains more than one query, these queries are displayed in collapsed mode (Request 107475).

In the Comments tab, the Copy All button is back, allowing you to copy all messages of the comment thread.

Comments: Copy All

In Reading mode, only one button is displayed in the toolbar. It can be used to display the Main side panel or not. In this side panel, the panes are organized in the following tabs: Navigation, Comments, and Properties.

Reading Mode Side Panel

Metadata Icons

In order to identify icons used to represent objects more easily, some of them have been changed compared to SAP BI 4.3. Additionally, they have colors similar to the ones you are used to see in SAP BI 4.2.

The following list details these objects and the icons used to display them.

  • : Dimension
  • : Merged dimension
  • : Measure
  • : Detail, calendar level and calendar level detail
  • : Geo-dimension
  • : Merged geo-dimension
  • : Time dimension
  • : Merged time dimension
  • : Calendar
  • : Filter
  • : Filter set
  • : Analysis dimension
  • : Analysis time dimension
  • : Hierarchy
  • : Default hierarchy
  • : Level
  •   : Member
  • : Named set
  • : Calculated member
  • : Prompted member
  • : Reference

These icons are consistently used everywhere in the Web Intelligence interface: in the Query Panel, in the Main and Build side-panels, in the Formula Editor, Conditional Formatting, Input Controls… dialog boxes.

Objects Tab in Main Side-Panel

When you create a query on top of a Web Intelligence document data source, these icons are also used to identify geographical dimensions, time dimensions and hierarchies that are defined in this document data source.

Query Panel: Web Intelligence Document Data Source

Data Source Icons

The icons used to identify a data source type are consistently the same in all places where queries are displayed.

Icons used to identify SAP BW and SAP HANA data sources have been changed:

  • : SAP BW
  • : SAP HANA

When you create a query based on an SAP HANA or SAP BW data source and, browse the repository for the connection to be used, the following icons are used to represent the possible connection types.

  • : Relational connection
  • : OLAP connection to a server
  • : OLAP connection to an SAP HANA view, SAP BW Info Provider or query
  • : HTTP connection, introduced in SAP BI 4.3 for SAP HANA only

User Interface Persistence

The following Web Intelligence user interface settings are saved and reused in your next session:

  • The “open” or “closed” status of the Main and Build side panels
  • The selected tab of the Main and Build side panels
  • The selected display view (Alphabetical, By Query, By Folder) in the Objects tab of the Main side panel (Request 122309)
  • The Instant Apply checkbox selection in the Format tab of the Build side-panel
  • The size of the Query Panel dialog box
  • The “open” or “closed” status of the Query Panel sections (Result Objects, Filters, Data Preview) open or closed status and relative sizes
  • The “open” or “closed” status of the Filter Bar
  • The “open” or “closed” status of the Formula Bar
  • The last colors you’ve selected in the Color Palette remain available. They are displayed at the bottom of the dialog box and you can use them as any other color.

Recently Used Colors in Color Palette

Input Control

When you create a group of input controls, this group is automatically added to the Filter Bar with all input controls it contains (the Add all ICs to the filter path checkbox is selected by default). You can remove them from the filter path later on.

Group of Input Controls: Default Display

Input controls based on constant variables drive the value for the whole document and are now displayed as document input control in the Filter Bar.

Contextual Menu

When selecting a chart or table in Edit mode, the floating toolbar is no longer displayed (Request 251210). Its commands (Send Forward, Send Backward, Hide When Empty, Sort, Add Break, Delete,…) have been added to the right-click contextual menu, if they were not yet available there.

Table and Chart Contextual Menu

Inserting Chart

In Edit mode, you can now directly insert any of all supported charts. In the Insert section of the toolbar, click the Insert chart button to open the menu. Select a chart category and in the sub-menu that opens, the chart to add.

Inserting a Chart

Warning Message

If you open a document that has been upgraded from a SAP XI 3.x system or that uses a universe for which a newer version exists, a warning is displayed to recommend saving the document. Saving it updates the document structure so that it must not be computed next time it is opened. This speeds up the document display. If you do not have the rights to save this document, this warning is not displayed (Request 255570).

Web Intelligence: Hyperlinks Authoring 

While hyperlinks are still working in documents created with a  previous product version, it is not possible to create or edit link to other document or intra-document link in SAP BI 4.3.

Creating or editing these links is possible in SAP BI 4.3 SP1: in Edit mode, select a cell, right-click it and select Hyperlink > Add Link in the contextual menu.

The Hyperlink dialog box is displayed. You can now create a link to any URL, to another document in the repository or to another report of the document.

To make the hyperlink work, remember to select the Enable hyperlinks, JavaScript and all HTML elements option in the Web Intelligence application properties in the CMC.

CMC: Web Intelligence Properties

Link to URL

To add a link to any URL, add this URL in the Target URL text field. If your URL contains parameters you want to customize, click the Customize URL Parameters (Parse) button.

Hyperlink Dialog Box

Once the analysis is done, the list of parameters found in the URL are displayed in the Customize URL Parameters section. You may turn your link into a dynamic one by defining for each parameter if you want to pass values from an object or by adding a formula. You select these options in the drop-down menu beside each parameter. You may also keep a parameter static either through its initial value or by explicitly typing a new one.

Hyperlink: Parsed URL

In the URL Options section, you may define how the hyperlink is displayed in the report: the hyperlink text, and the tooltip for this hyperlink. In both cases, you may pass the value of an object, a formula or a static value, as for the URL parameters.

Hyperlink: URL Options

Click OK to close this dialog box and finalize the creation of the hyperlink.

Inter-Document Link

To create a link to another document in the repository, you may also enter its URL in the Target URL text field. You can retrieve this URL in 2 ways:

  • Select the document in BI Launch Pad, and click Details from its contextual menu. You can copy the link to the document from the Document Link entry of the Details dialog box.
  • You can open the target document in Edit mode and generate an URL to a specific part of the document. To generate an URL to a specific report, in the report menu, select Copy Link to the Report from the report tab menu of the document. To generate a link to a table, a chart or a cell, open the contextual menu of the selected item and select the Copy Link to the Table, Copy Link to the Chart, Copy Link of the Free Cell menu item. This will copy the URL to this object into the clipboard.

In both cases, you may then copy this link into the Target URL of the Hyperlink dialog box.

Document Link in Details Dialog Box

Once the URL is copied, it is recognized as a link to another document.

You may keep the full path URL or click the Use complete URL path to create hyperlink checkbox to change the URL and insert a relative path, so it remains valid if you change your base URL later on.

Click the Customize URL Parameters (Parse) button. Once the analysis is done, the list of parameters found in the URL (like the document type and ID) are displayed in the Customize URL Parameters section.

Click the Analyze the Document button. Documents properties are displayed in the Analyze the Document dialog box, where you can select the prompts to answer or how to manage document’s instance.

Inter-Document Link: Analyze the Document 

If you have selected a few prompts, these prompts are added to the list of URL parameters. You can fill them with an object, a formula or a static value, as for URL link.

Inter-Document Link: Parameter Customization

You may also define in the URL Options section the link’s label and tooltip as for URL link.

Click OK to close this dialog box and finalize the creation of the link to another document.

Intra-Document Link

To create a link to another report of the document, select the This Document section of  the Hyperlink dialog box. In the Targeted Report within the Document drop-down list, select the report to open when this link is clicked.

In the Label text field, enter the text to display for this link. You may type a fixed string or use a dynamic string by selecting an object or editing a formula. Likewise, you may define a tooltip for this link, based on a fixed or dynamic string, in the Tooltip text field.

Intra-Document Link: Report List

Click OK to close this dialog box and finalize the creation of the link to another report in this document.

Web Intelligence: Customization 

In SAP BI 4.3, the Web Intelligence interface has been simplified compared to SAP BI 4.2. The customization capability, that allows Administrators to hide some elements of the interface, is back in SAP BI 4.3 SP1. It is also simpler than in SAP BI 4.2.

Customization supports a high-level grain, where you can hide some features, rather than individual user interfaces elements. The possible features that can be hidden are:

  • Mode > Edit: To allow Web Intelligence to open in Edit mode.
  • Mode > Reading: To force the user to open Web Intelligence only in Reading mode. If both Edit and Reading modes are disabled, Web Intelligence opens in Reading mode.
  • Data Source > Universe: To hide the data source option when creating a document, adding a query or changing the document data source.
  • Data Source > Web Intelligence document: To hide the data source option when creating a document, adding a query or changing the document data source.
  • Data Source > Excel: To hide the data source option when creating a document or adding a query.
  • Data Source > Text: To hide the data source option when creating a document or adding a query.
  • Data Source > SAP BW: To hide the SAP BW data source option when creating a document, adding a query or changing the document data source.
  • Data Source > SAP HANA: To hide the SAP HANA data source option when creating a document, adding a query or changing the document data source.
  • Data Source > Free-hand SQL: To hide the free-hand SQL data source option when creating a document or adding a query
  • Refresh > Refresh: To hide the Refresh buttons in the toolbar and in the Query Panel.
  • Refresh > Advanced Refresh: To hide the Advanced Refresh command in Reading mode.
  • Refresh > Auto-Refresh: To hide the Auto-Refresh command in Reading mode.
  • Document > Comments: To hide the Command tab and the Add comments menu or button. Disabling this feature does not prevent to see existing comments.
  • Analysis > Drill: To hide drill filters and prevent drilling and enabling drill.
  • Export to > Excel: To hide the Excel option when exporting a document into another file format.
  • Export to > PDF: To hide the PDF option when exporting a document into another file format.
  • Export to > HTML: To hide the HTML option when exporting a document into another file format.
  • Export to > Text: To hide the Text option when exporting a document into another file format.
  • Export to > CSV: To hide the CSV option when exporting a document into another file format.

Granting export file formats is no more done by security rights but by the Export to customization, that covers all file formats. However, for the moment, these customizations apply to the Web Intelligence interface, but not to scheduling.

Customized List of Data Sources

As in SAP BI 4.2, customization can be assigned in the CMC, per user group and per folder.

CMC: Group Customization for Web Intelligence

Web Intelligence: Text Data Source 

The Text file data source support is back in SAP BI 4.3 SP1.

When you create a document, or when you add a query to a document, the Text file option is  available.

Select a Data Source: Text

Selecting this option allows you to browse the BI Platform repository and list the Text and CSV files that have been uploaded to the public or your personal folders. Select a file and click Open.

Text File Selection

In the Custom Data Provider – Text file options, you may define the properties to interpret the Text file. In the Data Separator section, where you can select how columns are separated in the file, the Character menu contains by default the comma and the semicolon. You may also type any character in this text field.

Text File Option

Once you have selected your options, click OK to open the Query Panel where you can finalize and run your query.

Text File Query Panel

Local Text data sources (as well as local Excel data sources) are not yet supported in Web Intelligence Rich Client.

Web Intelligence: Export to CSV 

When you export to a CSV file, both in the interface or through scheduling, you can select the character to use as a column separator.

The Column Delimiter drop-down menu contains by default the comma, the semicolon and the tab character, but you can type any character in this text field.

CSV Export: Column Separator

Web Intelligence: Formula Language and Formula Editor 

Pos and RPos

To ease string manipulation (Request 120009), the Pos function has been improved with an optional start and end position for the search. Additionally, a new RPos function, used for the reverse search has been introduced. The signatures of these functions are:

  • string Pos ( string fullstring; string pattern[; integer start [; integer end ]])
  • string RPos ( string fullstring; string pattern [; integer start [; integer end ]])

where:

  • fullstring is the string in which the search is performed.
  • pattern is the string to search.
  • start is the position in the string at which the search starts.
  • end is the position in the string at which the search ends.

If only start is provided, the search is done between this position in the string and the end of the string, for both Pos and RPos.

These functions return 0 if the search is not successful.

Formula Editor

The Formula Editor has been reorganized to display more items in the Objects, Functions and Operators tree lists (Request 221155). This is especially useful if you are working on a screen with a low resolution.

Formula Editor

When inserting the Between, ForAll, ForEach, In, InList, Not or Where operator in a formula, parenthesis are added after the operator (Request 217308).

If you use auto-completion to add an operator (If, Then, Else, And, Or…) or a function that is not followed by parentheses, a space is automatically added after the insertion (Request 236699).

Prompt Predefined Cells

In Edit mode, if your document contains prompt(s), when you insert a cell from the toolbar, the Prompt menu is available in the Insert > Predefined Cells menu, where you can select to add:

  • A cell with the PromptSummary formula, through the Summary command.
  • For each prompt, a cell with the answers of this prompt.

Prompt Predefined Cells

Web Intelligence: Prompts 

Sort List of Values

In the Prompts or Query Panel Filters dialog boxes, you can sort the list of values.

You can sort the values by ascending or descending order, or simply not sort them and keep the values in the order returned by the server.

To apply a sort, click the Select order icon in the list of values’ header, and in the menu that opens, select Sort ascending, Sort descending or Server order.

Order List of Values

If you have a list of values with multiple columns, you can choose which column to sort.

Order Multi-Column List of Values

If you have a multidimensional list of values, only the values of the current node are sorted.

SAP BW / SAP HANA

For queries based on SAP BW or SAP HANA, prompts are displayed in the following order:

  1. SAP BW or SAP HANA key dates.
  2. SAP HANA or SAP BW variables, in the order defined in the SAP BW or SAP HANA database system. When you click the button to set a variable’s value, if this variable depends on other variables, you may expand the Dependencies section to list all these depending variables.
  3. Prompts created in the query panel or the universe.

SAP BW / SAP HANA Set Variables Dialog Box

SAP BW / SAP HANA Prompt Dependencies

If you use an OLAP universe created with Universe Design Tool on top of SAP BW, you may display and set key dates values. In Edit mode, in the toolbar, in the Data section, select the Keydates command.

This opens the Keydate Properties dialog box in which you can set:

  • Their default value to all key dates.
  • A common value for all key dates.
  • For each key date, a specific value or its default value.

Keydate Properties

Web Intelligence: Rich Client 

Download Web Intelligence Rich Client Installer

It is possible to download the Web Intelligence Rich Client installer from the BI Launch Pad.

Once you are logged in the BI Launch Pad, click on the menu on the top right if the page. In the menu; select Settings, then Application Preferences. In the Web Intelligence tab, containing Web Intelligence preferences, click the Download link to upload the Web Intelligence Rich Client installer on your desktop.

Web Intelligence Preferences: Download Installer

Once downloaded, you can run this setup to install Web Intelligence Rich Client.

Find

You may want to look for a string in the active windows. To do so, press the [Ctrl]+[F] keys and type the string to search in the text field that appears at the top right. The found instances will be highlighted in the active report page.

Web Intelligence Rich Client: Find

Show Password

On the Web Intelligence Rich Client login page, you can click the eye icon () in the Password text field so as to display the typed password.

Web Intelligence Rich Client: Show Password

User Menu

To align with the BI Launch Pad Home Page, the user menu has been moved from the left side of the Home Page to the right.

Web Intelligence Rich Client: User Menu

Data Sources: New Data Sources 

The following databases are newly supported databases for relational connections and universes:

  • MongoDB through JDBC and ODBC drivers that are provided at installation time (Request 121099)
  • SAP Data Warehouse Cloud through a dedicated data source (it was previously available in SAP 4.3 through the SAP HANA driver)

Information Design Tool: Relational Connections

The eFashion sample universe is available on UNIX and Windows since the database has been moved to an SQLite database. However, the SQLite driver is only supported for this sample.

Scheduling and Publishing 

Several enhancements have been made for scheduling:

  • In the Schedule instances page, to display the instances, you can switch between a list view or a calendar view by selecting the Calendar button in the toolbar.

Instance Page: Calendar View

  • When adding an Email destination to a schedule or a publication, in the email properties, you can fill the Reply-To text field to define an email address if the schedule recipient answers to the received email.
  • You can also format the message to be sent by using the options available in the toolbar of the text field: bold, italic, font, color…

Instance Page: Calendar View

  • In the History page of a scheduled document, the list of instances is automatically refreshed every 3 seconds, as in SAP BI 4.2.

BI Launch Pad 

User Menu

In the SAP BI Launch Pad, the user settings are no longer accessed through a sliding page, but through a menu. To open this menu, click the user icon () at the top right of the BI Launch Pad.

SAP BI Launch Pad User Menu

This menu contains the following menu items:

  • Settings: to open the different Settings dialog box, in which you can set your settings, applications’ options,…
  • Edit Home Page: to reorganize the tiles on the Home Page.
  • About: to display the About dialog box.
  • Help: to open the Online Help.
  • Logout: to exit SAP BI Launch Pad.

Settings

In addition to the capability to download the Web Intelligence Rich Client installer, there are only two new features in the Settings dialog box:

  • In the Database Credentials tab of the User Account section, you can modify the Data Source Reference the administrator has defined in the CMC. Introduced in SAP BI 4.3, these Data Source References are used as secondary credentials for the authentication of connections.

BI Launch Pad: Data Source Reference

  • New BI Launch Pad themes are available in the Appearance You can select them to modify the BI Launch Pad look and feel and select a high contrast display for a better visibility.

SAP BI Launch Pad: Themes

SAP BI Launch Pad Display

You can define the order of the tiles displayed in the top and Applications lines of the BI Launch Pad Home Page:

  • The Documents, Folders, Categories, Instances, Recycle Bin, Inbox tiles in the Home line.
  • The applications tiles (Web Intelligence, BI Workspace,…) in the Applications line.

To do so, select the Edit Home Page menu item of the user menu.

SAP BI Launch Pad: Ordering Tiles Order

A new page opens, in which you can drag and drop these tiles to re-order them in these two rows. Click Done to save your changes and return to the Home Page. The tiles are displayed according to the choices you have made.

Browsing the Repository Content

When you browse folders or categories, you can display their content as a list (by default) or as tiles. Click the Tile View button () of the toolbar to display the folder (or category) content by tile. To return to the previous view, click the List View button ().

SAP BI Launch Pad: Folder Tiles View

Icons used for file types have been aligned with the ones used in other SAP applications:

  • : Adobe PDF
  • : Microsoft Excel or CSV file
  • : Microsoft PowerPoint
  • : Microsoft Word
  • : Text file
  • : Agnostic file

The mouse controls are simpler:

  • You can open an object contextual menu through right-click, and not only by clicking the More button ().
  • The click area of an on object is its full row.
  • An object can be moved into another folder through drag and drop.
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